“Have you read Ritusamhara?” she asked.
The four of them were driving out of the city. Somewhere in the northwest, a mansion lay waiting for them – an old relic of the past, which belonged to a man who had made it big in pharmaceutical business in a city along the Arabian Sea. Ritusamhara. The memories of a decade-old past occurred like a flash, very much like last-night’s perfume, which had now diffused with sweat beneath his neck.
Ritusamhara. He had held the verses close to his heart while sitting on a round-about, next to a news agency. Towards the right, a cinema-hall had been closed for renovation. On one end, a lone man sold cigarettes. A small eatery offered tea and coffee to love-lorn couples.
Even during the nights made pitch-dark
By clouds thundering long and loud
Set out to meet their lovers
Their path lit by lightning flashes
The year was 1997. And he was in love.
Love? Love was like a coin coated with opium. To be kept hidden behind the cheek as it released its invisible coating in the bloodstream. The ears would turn red. Kalidasa would lend a private audience. Seasons would come gushing in. The cigarette stuck between two fingers would turn limp with sweat dripping from the palm. The pen would sprint on blank pages. The gashes of ink would decorate his hands. And the whole of his shirt in the front. There would be an orgy of words – forty pages by the time the tea-maker brewed his tea. He would then raise the cup to his lips, pretending that he was drinking hemlock.
Ritusamhara. Ten years have passed. More than ten years. The script is lost. The cinema-hall is a multiplex. There is no news agency. It is an Adidas showroom now. The tea-maker is lost. Café Coffee Days are around now. There are no pages to be filled. The coin has rusted; it tastes sour now – tamarind like.
“No, I haven’t read it,” he replies to her, “what is it?”
Ritusamhara. A nail in my heart. Remain there. Make me bleed.